Yahoo! Offers Tailored Movie Recommendations

Yahoo! is expected to announce today the addition of individualized movie recommendations to Yahoo! Movies, with the help of personalization platform provider ChoiceStream. The service is intended to bolster Yahoo! Movies as a pre-viewing must-read, by providing users with a tailored picture of the movie market.

To use the new service, users must click on the My Recommendations tab located on Yahoo! My Movies, where they are asked a series of questions to determine their preferences: age demographic and sex; whether they favor independent or mainstream movies; and their feelings on a range of genre-representative films such as "As Good As It Gets," "Total Recall," and "The Princess Bride." The more movies a user rates, the more attuned the system is designed to be to their tastes.

ChoiceStream--which is already licensing its technology to Yahoo! for its shopping and gift finder service--does not depend on typical collaborative filtering techniques, which simply match buying patterns, according to Steve Johnson, CEO of ChoiceStream. "By judging a movie on 40 to 50 subtle attributes, we can often get a good reading on a consumer's tastes after they've rated just three to eight movies," said Johnson.

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The personal information gleaned from this process is used solely to align users' preferences with movie recommendations, and not to target advertising either on Yahoo! Movies or any other Yahoo! property, said Jed Rosenzweig, director of production for Y! Movies.

Rosenzweig stressed that the recommendations will be made independently of whether a movie or film studio advertises with Yahoo!

Users receive personalized recommendations for movies in local theaters, with one-click access to local showtimes and online ticketing, as well as upcoming movies appearing on TV based on a consumer's personal TV channel lineup. Consumers also can read reviews and recommendations from other users with similar taste in movies to further abet the discovery process.

The service offers lists of DVDs and video recommendations based on personal preference, as well as a link to Yahoo! Shopping. The site has been in beta for several months, and quietly went live last week.

ChoiceStream maintains that its personalized recommendations offer users access to hundreds of thousands more product choices by reaching deeper into a retailer's inventory. While neither Yahoo! or ChoiceStream would provide specifics, Johnson said the partnership to improve Yahoo! Shopping's Gift Finder Service has been a success. "Their conversions have spiked significantly," said Johnson. "The fact that we're entering into another partnership is definitely proof of that."

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